CHELSEA, MAINE -- Robert Sherwood has been fined $20,000 for clear- cutting 70 acres on Windsor Road.
Sherwood, of Chelsea, and his company -- W&S Wood Products Inc. -- were found liable in Kennebec Superior Court on Oct. 24, 2006, for violations of the Maine's Forest Practices Act.
Sherwood settled out of court and agreed to pay a $20,000 civil penalty for the violations.
The decision was issued by Superior Court Justice S. Kirk Studstrup. The consent order was signed Feb. 6.
The investigation, enforcement action and settlement negotiations were carried out by Maine Forest Service foresters and forest rangers and the Attorney General's Office.
Paul Larrivee, regional enforcement coordinator for the Maine Forest Service, said the 70-acre clear-cut occurred during harvest operations on Sherwood's 210-acre parcel.
He said Sherwood didn't have an adequate separation zone or a harvest plan prepared by a licensed forester.
"I don't believe he intended to create a violation," Larrivee said Monday.
"Harvesting operations require thoughtful planning and preparation, and that step was overlooked," he said. "That's why we encourage landowners, if they're thinking of harvesting timber, to call us. One of our foresters will come out and walk the woodlot before the harvest."
He said landowners should seek professional assistance from a licensed forester and write a timber sale contract to ensure harvests meet their objectives.
Sherwood said cost prevented him from fighting the case in court.
"I still don't think it was a clear-cut," said Sherwood, a woodsman for 55 years. "I hired a forester and he went over it. He didn't put it in writing, but he told me we might have clear- cut 30 acres instead of 70 because of the separation of the wetlands.
"But what bothered me most is Irving Oil clear-cut 40 acres and was fined only $1,000. Twenty thousand dollars is a lot of money for a poor, struggling woodsman."
Larrivee said warning signs of clear-cuts include the size of the lot, the amount of trees left behind and the width of skid trails -- the path logging equipment uses to extract wood from the forest. "It doesn't happen a lot," Larrivee said. "We spend the vast majority of our time trying to prevent this from happening through education."
He said clear-cutting typically occurs on woodlots not seen from the road and usually are discovered by rangers and foresters on routine inspections.
Alec Giffen, Maine Forest Service director, said his agency's goal is to improve management of Maine's forests.
His agency focuses on educating and informing landowners to reduce the possibility of such violations, he said.
"But, when violations do occur, we have a responsibility to uphold the law and to enforce the Forest Practices Act," Giffen said. "We take this and our other responsibilities very seriously."
Mechele Cooper -- 623-3811, Ext. 408